A eighth-grade boy was permitted to play varsity field hockey with the team last fall, but Section XI has decided that he cannot compete on the girls team again when the new season starts, according to Newsday.
The attorney for the family of Keeling Pilaro, a 13-year-old boy who learned field hockey while living in Ireland, told Newsday that, after exhausting all appeals through Section XI, Suffolk County's governing body for high school sports, the family intends to sue to demand Keeling be permitted to play.
But the Section XI attorney said that Keeling's participation in the sport precluded a female player from receiving all-conference honors last fall, and that, as one of the league's top scorers, his playing could prevent an all-female team from making the playoffs, Newsday reports.
"I feel bad for the kid, because I know how much he likes to play and he's been part of the program for two years," Southampton School District Athletic Director Darren Phillips told Patch Thursday afternoon.
Phillips said the rule regarding allowing a boy to play on a girls team concerns whether it will have an "adverse effect" on the game — a rule he said is subjective.
"He's not taking any spots away from girls on out team, as far as cuts," Phillips said of Keeling.
In the past, girls have played on boys tennis, football and soccer teams in Southampton, he noted.
The school district filed for a hearing date with a Section XI committee on May 15, when Southampton will make its case to allow Keeling to play, Phillips said. He explained that a player's school, not his family, must make the appeal.
Phillips said he hopes the committee will see the matter from the perspective of promoting child development.
"You want them to be the best they can be as an athlete," Phillip said, adding that now Keeling is being told he's "too good."
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